IFAD chief underlines rural development for African communities


 Kanayo Nwanze, the President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said on Wednesday that the importance of investing in smallholder agriculture will help to improve rural communities development.
Nwanze made this known during a discussion at the Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference in Rome.
He said that the rural development will play a fundamental role in stabilising communities and further reduces the impacts of climate change and migration.
Nwanze said that IFAD and Italy share a conviction that a vibrant agricultural sector depends on small-scale farming.
"Smallholder farmers have a crucial role to play in food security, nutrition, and poverty reduction.
“Italy has a long history of investing in sub-Saharan Africa’s development, and this is also where about half of IFAD’s financing is directed,’’ he said.
The conference has brought together over 40 African ministers of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Italian government officials including the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Others are representatives from the UN and the African Union.
The focus of the day-long event was to discuss opportunities for sustainable growth in Africa that address issues related to migration and climate change.
In a keynote speech entitled: “Economic Sustainability, Italy and Africa,” Nwanze said that the crucial investment in agriculture can play a very important role in developing African economies.
According to him, the development will also help in creating opportunities for the estimated 224 million African young people who will be seeking employment over the next decade.
“Too many die on the road to a better life; their bodies found across the Saharan desert or washed up on Mediterranean beaches.
“This adds to the urgency of our work,” Nwanze said.
Italy is one of the strong supporters of IFAD. Among IFAD's member states, Italy is the fifth largest financial contributor to the organization’s resources, with a cumulative pledge of 509 million dollars.
In addition to its regular contributions to IFAD, Italy has channelled about 60 million dollars in supplementary funds to co-finance specific initiatives and projects in selected thematic and geographic areas.
Half of the supplementary funds received from Italy since 1994 focused on promoting food security in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Mauritania, Liberia, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Kenya.
Others are Sierra Leone, Niger, Guinea Bissau, and more recently Guinea, by supporting smallholder farming systems, rural financial services, value chains development and access to markets.
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience.
As an international financial institution and specialized UN agency, IFAD has, since 1978, provided 17.7 billion dollars in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 459 million people.

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